Celiac College Student Survey completed March 2019
Food Service Vendor?
What stage are you in college?
Please describe your meal plan for each year there so far.
unlimited meal plan all four years. Was only required freshman year, but they mandated living on campus.
How many years ago were you diagnosed with celiac?
How sensitive to gluten are you?
Extremely: React to even small traces
How would you describe the worst reaction you have had since diagnosis?
Does your college handle celiac food restrictions as you expected they would when you selected your school?
Mostly what I expected
Grade your college on feeding celiac students
Explain your rationale for that grade
I was diagnosed freshman year, they initially had NOTHING to eat. I worked with them and they were very responsive about increasing options, improving the labeling system, and creating an audit system to ensure proper labels. By the time I graduated a few years ago, they had an entire GF section of the dining hall.
Check all that apply
My school is small and has only a few dining halls, Ability to feed me varies somewhat across dining halls, I feel comfortable eating at any dining hall on campus, I frequent certain dining halls because they have more options although all are safe, I have great options at some of the dining halls
Did you register with your students disabilities office for accommodations? If yes, describe.
I did not. I simply met with the dean of students to work with the dining hall to recommend and implement changes.
Are there resources (nutritionists, chefs, peer support groups) to help ensure you are receiving safe nutritious food? Describe
Ad hoc meetings among students.
How many times have you been glutenized in your dining hall? If you didn't answer NONE, please explain what happened and how school responded.
More than 3. I notified the dining hall staff and they just apologized and tried to do their best to improve processes. I honestly could have pushed more to make them realize how bad it was.
Describe your biggest celiac challenge at college and how you manage it
Inconsistent options - which I dealt with by supplementing things I kept in my dorm room.
If you were in charge of dining, what changes would you implement to better feed celiac students? Would your school be open to these suggestions?
I would evaluate recipes for common allergens like gluten and adjust wherever possible to make things that can easily be adjusted to be GF friendly. My school was open to some of this and did do it on some occasions.
Did celiac impact your housing decision? How? Is there a certain dorm you recommend for celiacs? Why?
Yes - I requested to be given special access to dorms with private kitchens.
Your advice to new celiac kids for managing the dining halls? Favorite dining hall(s)?
Always be suspicious and advocate for yourself. Get creative!
Your advice to new celiac kids for eating in the dorm? Favorite snacks? Places that deliver?
Keep stuff in your dorm and avoid storing things in shared/non-private kitchens.
Your advice to new celiac kids on preparing before they come? Or doing upon first arrival?
Ask to be put in touch with current students with celiac
Your advice to new celiac kids on managing keg parties and alcohol scene?
Bring alcohol with you everywhere you go. Also bring snacks because late night eating is just as much a part of the culture as drinking! e.g., late night pizza delivery
Grade your college town area for celiac friendliness
Favorite places to eat in town or foodshop?
Anything else you would like to add?
I actually don't remember having a bad contamination any time after freshman year, which was the rough point. As a result, I worked closely with them to develop an audit system for allergen labeling, so they got pretty good about it. One challenge was that sometimes the people serving the food don't really understand these issues, and to be frank, don't always have the education or wherewithal to ever get there. The "higher-ups" understood that. Sometimes I'd simply ask for a fresh batch or confirmation that something was safe whenever I was unsure. Maybe I was being overly safe but anything to make me feel better. I would say on initial look, Hamilton didn't seem to have as much as other schools with completely separate rooms. For example, Union and Williams had a large room with a separate fridge and would stock the cabinets with GF snacks. While this initially seems appealing, in my experience the schools with these separate areas are less likely to accommodate in the hot food lines because they think they have it "covered" with the allergen free room. However, eating boxed/frozen meals all the time is not sustainable for long-term nutrition. At Hamilton, they expressed the desire for a separate area but noted barriers due to the existing layouts. As a result, I think they were eager to overcompensate, hence the McEwen Dining Hall adjustments. One of the great things about a small school like Hamilton is I knew all of the chefs and managers. They would see me walking in the dining hall and immediately direct me to what I could eat. Oftentimes they'd make things special for me if I didn't like any of the available options or there weren't enough. There's a diner on campus that is really not gluten free friendly at the front on the grill. However, it was the only late night food available on campus. I got them to start reserving a grill out back so they could heat the GF bread for the burgers and such separately.